The number of customers in the restaurant dropped noticeably. It decreased, so did the freshness of the unused ingredients for the food. And so even more customers were lost. It was a vicious cycle.
To make matters worse, a food alley handled by the district office opened across the street and destroyed the business of the alley where Roro’s restaurant was.
The whole dreadful ordeal happened to Roro’s parents when they were at the most powerless and weakest time of their life.
Eventually, Roro’s restaurant, which broke the record of the worst month every month, they had no choice but to close it down. Roro was surprised with how desolate the restaurant felt once it had closed and he despairingly thought of better times,
‘We would’ve been better off had I taken over the restaurant since my writing is not exactly going well’
Roro could no longer avoid the reality that he used to do with idle thoughts. As the reality collapsed, the development of the novel he was writing on crashed as well. He couldn’t go on anymore.
The restaurant was closed but his parents who had been working hard for their entire life couldn’t just sit there doing nothing. Dad went out to look for a security job, mom started working at the food alley across the street.
“Not being an owner, being an employee who gets paid is such a comfort.”
His parents couldn’t hide their worn-out faces but there wasn’t worry on their smile since they were out of the circuit of losing at least.
Roro was about to go to bed and met his dad who just came back when the sun was out after the night shift of the security work.
“Staying up all night is such hard work. How can you manage to do it every day?”
Roro who was pretending to write didn’t know what to say to his dad who actually came back from really working.
“Would you like some toast?”
Roro’s dad went into a bathroom to wash up. Roro made some French toast with bread and eggs for his dad.
Dad, was watching his son’s back while waiting for the toast and called his son’s name quietly. Roro got nervous feeling the beginning of his usual lecture. He hung his head in shame and put the toast on the table.
”It’s already started, try your best. The end of the story is what’s important.”
He patted Roro’s back with firm hands. Then, he blessed himself and prayed at the table as he always did before meals.
“Bless us, O lord, and these…”
Roro turned his back and went into his room even before his dad’s short praying ended. He didn’t want to make his dad lose his appetite with a sudden tear streaming down his son’s face.
The patting on the back by dad was the most punishing moment that Roro had ever faced. He signed up for a job search website, for the first time in his life.
Photo by @spotlessfoto, (Dong-bae Moon, mirror-3, 100x65.1cm, oil on canvas, 2020)